Tag: brain

  • Did Mutation Shape the Homo Sapien Brain?

    Neanderthals are cousins to modern humans and both are grouped in the genus Homo. While designated as different species (Homo neanderthalensis versusHomo sapiens), Neanderthals and humans are genetically close and likely co-existed for thousands of years, primarily in Eurasia. Once considered a more primitive species, evolving science indicates that Neanderthals had brains similar in size […]

  • It’s In Your Gut

    America is an increasingly overweight country and the problem seems to be getting worse. Already over one-half of Americans are considered overweight and each year more and more people tip the scales into the overweight category. Many factors likely contribute to this trend, but ultimately if we consume more calories than we burn each day […]

  • Human Brain Evolution

    Primates are our closest relatives with chimpanzees sharing almost 99% of our DNA genomes. Neanderthals are even closer to modern humans with genomes 99.7% identical to ours and with brains nearly the same size as modern humans. Neanderthals (Homo neanderthalensis) and humans (Homo sapiens) were so genetically similar that successful interbreeding occurred, resulting in a […]

  • Sonogenetics – Controlling the Brain with Sound

    My neuroscience colleagues have long been proponents of the technique known as optogenetics, a procedure that was named the scientific “Method of the Year” in 2010. For this method, brain cells are genetically engineered to respond to a specific wavelength of light. Typically this involves using a virus or other delivery system to augment brain […]

  • Viruses and Brain Disease

    Humans may produce upwards of 100,000 proteins. Each different type of protein normally folds into a unique shape (its tertiary structure) that is essential to its function. Proteins can misfold due to mutations that change the amino acid sequence of the protein leading to a defective protein. Alternatively, sometimes a wild-type protein (the normal protein) […]

  • Cognition and MicroRNAs

    In a previous blog (Calculating Dementia), I wrote about an online health and lifestyle questionnaire that could predict your risk of dementia over the coming 5 year period. The algorithm behind the questionnaire was based on data from about 50,000 men and women in Canada. However, the algorithm didn’t take into account family history or […]

  • Microbes and Aging

    The human digestive tract, primarily the colon, typically contains between 300 to 1000 different bacterial species, collectively known as our gut microbiome. Studies from the last 20 years have repeatedly shown important connections between the composition of our gut microbiome (i.e. the number of different species and the relative quantities of each species) and various […]

  • Let There Be Light

    Retinitis pigmentosa (RP) is a genetic disease where cells in the retina called rods and cones slowly die off leading to diminished sight or complete blindness. Rod and cone cells, collectively called photoreceptors, absorb light and convert it to electrical signals. The electrical signals are transmitted through other intermediate cells and eventually pass to retinal […]

  • Dangerous Vocations

    Accidents happen. Even in laboratories where safety is a priority they occur despite our best (and sometimes not so best) efforts to keep ourselves and our co-workers protected from injury and disease. Scientists working with infectious agents are particularly at risk even though there are numerous physical and procedural requirements in labs to ameliorate the […]

  • Epigenetics and Stress: “The moving finger writes; and, having writ, moves on.” – Omar Khayyam

    There is a well-known connection between early life stress (ELS) and depression that develops in adolescence or the adult years. Individuals with severe ELS suffer from an up to three-fold higher incidence of depression as adults, a risk seen both in humans and in animal models. What has remained mysterious is the mechanism by which […]